Science of Learning Research Centre

SLRC Seminar Series – Teacher Talk

Date: Monday 26th March 2018

Time:  4:30 – 5:45pm (45 minute presentation, 15 minutes question time followed by 15 minutes tea/coffee)

Venue: Level 7 Seminar Room, Queensland Brain Institute (Building #79) The University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus

Speakers: Sophie Murphy, (University of Melbourne) and Luke Mandouit (University of Melbourne)

About Sophie Murphy
Sophie has taught and held leadership positions in both Primary and Secondary settings, in the public and private sector for over 20 years. As a practitioner Sophie was passionate about effective classroom questioning, planning and teaching for deep level learning, and effective classroom discourse. After completing her Masters research in the area of ‘Teacher Talk’, in 2017 Sophie began her PhD at the University of Melbourne under the supervision of Professor John Hattie. In addition to this, Sophie works as academic at the University of Melbourne, was recipient of the ACEL ‘New Voice’ Scholarship, and leads the 2018 University of Melbourne Network of Schools.

Sophie’s research on teacher talk and student discourse aims to understand more about the vital role student voice and discourse plays in the construction of meaning (Bakhtin, 1986; Maybin, 1991; Nuthall, 2002; Vygotsky, 1962). There has been a significantly greater focus on educational research that has concentrated on how the discourse of teachers mediates the construction of knowledge in classrooms (Alexander, 2001; Dyson, 1992; Edwards, 1993; Fisher, 1993; Lemke, 1990; Mercer, 1995). Yet, without close analysis of the structure, content and function of student voice, we are unable to understand the realities of the student experience and the learning that results from that experience (Nuthall, 2007). Sophie has begun to replicate Graham Nuthall’s research. Nuthall has extensively researched classroom discourse and firmly believes that students must be involved in active dialogue to develop essential skills, such as questioning and the development of vocabulary to further extend and allow for the exploration of thinking their skills. Nuthall’s research has contributed valuable insights into the private world of student voice and classroom discourse at a micro analytic level to increase our understanding of the nature of student’s discourse and its contribution to learning.  In Nuthall’ s view, the truth lies in the detail. Every generalization we make, every conclusion we draw, must be true of every individual student, accounting the realities of student experience in the classroom (Nuthall, 2007). This research seeks to understand what students are talking about in classrooms with their teachers and their peers. It will explore these notions with the development of a conceptual framework and the appropriate analytical tools to provide further insight and an understanding within the hidden lives of learners (Nuthall, 2007).

About Luke Mandouit
Luke has previously worked for over 15 years as a teacher and school leader in the Victorian Government Secondary system. Whilst working in schools he completed the Master of School Leadership at the University of Melbourne, undertaking research into how student voice can be used to inform teacher professional learning.  Following this, Luke began his Doctoral research under the supervision of Professor John Hattie investigating how students respond emotionally and cognitively when presented with teacher feedback. Luke is currently a Research Fellow for the Science of Learning Centre (SOLC) at the University of Melbourne, the co-director of the SOLC Partnership Initiative, and teaches in a range of Masters programs with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. In addition to this, Luke has presented locally and internationally in the area of feedback, instructional practice, and evidence-based teaching; and, works with schools and other learning organisations to optimise feedback practices and maximise their impact.

The influence of teacher feedback on student achievement is well established, but with wide variance in the levels of effectiveness between different forms of feedback acknowledged. In addition to this, the subjective nature of how each student responds to teacher feedback adds another layer of complexity to the feedback discussion. With most prior research completed through the lens of researcher and teacher, these studies investigate the influence of feedback from the learner’s perspective, and aim to develop a deeper understanding of students’ cognitive and emotional responses to teacher feedback. Results from these studies support previous research in that different forms of feedback vary in their effectiveness and influence on the learner, and give new insights from the perspective of the student. These include: the importance of praise to stimulate learner confidence and motivation; the tendency for students to construct their own meaning when receiving feedback; and, how the learning context influences response to feedback.

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